Khoikhoi Drinking from Kaross


These two sketches are from a set of 27 drawings on 15 sheets that was discovered in the National Library of South Africa in 1986. The drawings are important for presenting the earliest realistic depictions of the Khoikhoi, the original inhabitants of the Western Cape. On the left, Khoikhoi are being given a drink by a colonist, a kaross (a cape or blanket made from skins) serving as the receptacle into which it is poured. The right-hand drawing shows the sequel, with a man drinking from the kaross. The notes, in Dutch, provide information about Khoikhoi houses, dress, and hairstyles. Much information about the Khoikhoi is available from early European accounts, but few illustrations exist. The drawings in the collection were made in situ and, unlike most early European depictions of the Khoikhoi, were never filtered through the eyes of European engravers. The artist most likely was a Dutchman, born in the 17th century, who was attached in some capacity to the Dutch East India Company and possibly en route to the Dutch East Indies or on his way back to the Netherlands when he visited the Cape. Evidence suggests that the drawings were made no later than 1713, and possibly a good deal earlier. Most of the drawings have annotations, made by another person, also unidentified, after 1730.

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Physical Description

1 drawing : pen and black ink on paper ; 24 x 37 centimeters


  • Reproduced as Plate 7 in The Khoikhoi at the Cape of Good Hope: Seventeenth-century drawings in the South African Library / text by Andrew B. Smith, from which this description is adapted. On verso of Khoi women dancing (INIL 6263); number 6263v of a set: INIL 6250-6264.

Last updated: July 2, 2015